Saint Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick’s Day

Our family is big on celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. We celebrate not only St. Patrick but also our Irish family heritages. The day is full of prayer, fun activities, yummy food, good whiskey, and traditional Celtic music. It all starts with a big breakfast.

Meals

While we do not have a standard breakfast we eat on St. Patrick’s Day, one thing is for sure – it must include green. This year it included green almond milk server with waffles covered in yogurt, whipped cream, berries, banana slices and, yup, green sprinkles. Growing up, my mother always made me green eggs and ham on St. Patrick’s Day.

At lunch, we may prefer to have tea and tea sandwiches. This year we had traditional Irish tea (our favorite is Barry’s) along with tea sandwiches which included our favorite gluten free vegan bread, vegan cream cheese, chives and cucumber slices arranged like shamrocks. This was a recipe provided by Catholic All Year in our March subscription box.

For dinner, we always make a traditional Irish Boiled Dinner with sour pickles. I’m actually not too sure just how “traditional” it is, but it’s what my family made every St. Patrick’s Day and it’s become something we look forward to each year.

Activities

Throughout the day we may pick and choose from many different activities including:

Listening to a podcast on St. Patrick from Saint Stories for Kids. We love this podcast series that gives a brief overview of a Saint and then shares a live action story from traditions surrounding them, sound effects and all. They are short enough to keep our kid’s attention span and exciting enough to talk about the rest of the day!

Crafting, which includes binding three corks together to dip in paint and make shamrock designs, using dot markers or pens to create a rainbow and a pot of gold (including gold glitter), coloring St. Patrick coloring pages, etc. The possibilities are endless!

We also have an annual St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt. This year we used a scavenger hunt we found online that had clues Pickles, our 4-year-old, had to figure out. At the end of the hunt the prize was a plastic bin with anything green and St. Patrick’s Day related we could find. Later in the day this served as an activity/sensory bin Pickles and Bacon could both enjoy playing with by dyeing water or foam green and putting all the items (plastic green and gold coins, shamrocks, etc) in the water or foam and then letting the kids at it.

This year we did two scavenger hunts, simply because Bacon, our 1-year-old, is not able to engage in clues. Instead, we had cut out snacks from green paper in different shapes and sizes and had him run around finding them. Once he had them all we ‘banished’ the snakes from ‘Ireland’ by casting them into the ottoman (it seemed appropriate).

Activity and sensory play are also a consideration. As noted above you can use things like green water or green foam in a bin with green items, or if you prefer a less ‘wet’ option – try shredded green paper or green slime.

Lastly, we wrap up the day watching a documentary on Ballintubber Abbey in Ireland. We visited there when we were in Ireland years ago and fell in love with the Abbey, it’s history, and its connection to St. Patrick.

Treats and Libations

Like the activities listed above, there are a variety of treats and libations to pick from when considering celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Over the years we have narrowed down to making Irish Coffee and Irish Whiskey Cookies. Of course, in order to do this you will need some good Irish Whiskey. Plan ahead.

Prayers

As alluded to in the introduction to this blog post, prayers are important on St. Patrick’s Day. We specifically like to pray the prayer of St. Patrick’s Breastplate and bless the children with holy water we acquired in Ireland from St. Patrick’s well.

We hope you have/had a blessed St. Patrick’s Day. Now back to our regularly scheduled Lenten fast!


Boxes of Fun

Boxes of Fun

Animals and kids alike love a good cardboard box. A big sturdy box is hard to come by, so when one arrives at your doorstep save it for a fun family activity.

We have only had a few big boxes delivered over the past several years – two for our outdoor Adirondack style chairs I had to put together, one for a manual treadmill, and one for a big cargo area floor mat for the back of our vehicle. All of these boxes have become playhouses, forts, jungle shacks, etc.

Cut doorways, windows, peepholes. Use other bits and bobs from your recycling to add to the fun like a duct tape center roll is perfect for a circle window on a door, paper can be a fun curtain, toilet paper rolls can be binoculars, and other smaller boxes can become seating. The possibilities are limitless once it’s been decided what your box will be. We have yet to make a bus, car, big rig or boat, but our next box (safely stored in our basement) has a lot of potential). Especially if we use a little paint or markers and a lot of imagination.

The monstrosity of a box will live in infamously in your child’s memory, but more realistically it’ll live smack dab in the middle of your dining room, kitchen or bedroom. Set an expiration date of the box and start preparing your child as the expiration date gets closer that it’s going to be taken down and recycled. Even better, let them help demolish it with pretend tools and sheer strength.

For the not-so-big boxes in your life – they can also be just as fun! Just not in such a monumental way. For instance, Pickles and Bacon love using their diaper boxes as race cars. They sit in them (sometimes together!) and then we propel them across the carpet or hard floor to see how far and how fast they can go. They giggle, tip the box over, and run it back to us across the room looking for another ride.

Another thing we’ve done is make garages out of the boxes. Pickles loves Blaze and the Monster Machines so we made a garage for Blaze and all his friends, as well as an opening for Gabby’s Garage (with working door) and a finish line for their race.

The possibilities are endless! Enjoy the creative time with your kiddos and put them to work to help construct their next adventure!


Rocky Road Recipe

Rocky Road Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Mini Marshmallows
  • Nuts (whatever you like- we use walnuts and cashews or whatever we have on hand)
  • Chocolate 
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt

Instructions:

1. Chop up nuts so they are smaller than the marshmallows (unless you want them bigger)

2. Mix nuts in with marshmallows

3. Put chocolate, coconut oil and salt together in dish

4. Melt chocolate in double boiler or microwave (I use a microwave and set it for 40 seconds, then stir, do another 30 seconds and stir until melted – it’s best to do it in small intervals so to not burn the chocolate)

5. Mix chocolate into marshmallow and nut mix

6. Dump out onto a pan lined with parchment paper 

7. Form into a long mound shape (so to look like a rocky road) or roll parchment paper around it and make a log (I have tried it both way, and actually prefer the rocky road shape better)

8. Put in fridge to all chocolate to set and firm (usually about and hour is best)

9. Take out of fridge and cut into thick slices. Enjoy! (Save leftovers in fridge)


Bear Hunt

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

To help incorporate imaginative play we like to offer the kids a song called We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by the Kiboomers. We will put the audio on for the song and walk around with them while singing the song together.

During the course of the song we have to walk through tall wavy grass, swim through a big river, go through the mud, go into a cave and when we find the bear in the cave we run back out of the cave, through the mud, across the river, and through the tall grass to our home (usually screaming like banshees).

To add to the fun you can setup a lite obstacle course to act as the grass, river, mud, cave and home – or you can just use your imagination to its full! You could also do this game in your own backyard, which could be real fun, unless you ran into a real bear!

One of our favorite things about this game is that it builds on a sequence and then reverses it, helps spark imagination, and can be an active game to get energy out. At some level is also builds an understanding of acceptance – i.e. this obstacle is in front of me, what can I do about? Nothing – OK, well, then I need to go through it.


Floor is Lava and Freeze Dance

Floor is Lava and Freeze Dance

One of our favorite ways to get the kids energy out is to queue up The Kiboomers on YouTube or via Alexa and play The Floor is Lava kids dance song. The song instructs the children to dance, wiggle, tip-toe, and crawl before counting down for them to get off the floor before it turns into lava.

As you can imagine, this is great fun for the kids and it produces a lot of silliness and running around. When the alert is sounding during the refrain we typically all wave our hands in the air like crazy people. Even “Bacon” gets in on that action, and he’s only a year and half old.


Another thing we’ve done to make this more fun is to add in foam balance rocks that we have to stand on to avoid the lava. It takes a bit more balance and can add to the fun.

When we are all tired from the Floor is Lava we will switch to the Freeze Dance, also by The Kiboomers and try to get stuck in as many funny positions and faces as possible when frozen.

Both games are very active and require following directions – so the kids gain some skillsets too. Adding in the foam balance rocks gives the added fun of balancing while escaping the lava or being frozen!


Foam Fun

Foam Fun

I love how easy this is! All you need is 2 TBSP of dish soap, 1/4 cup of water, some food coloring, and a hand mixer! (If you need more you can always double or triple the recipe – the original amount I would say is good for 1 child in a small bin)

This is a great sensory activity for any time of the year, but I especially like it when I can coordinate it with something within the season (i.e. Valentine’s Day to make pink foam, St. Patrick’s Day to make green foam, etc.). 

Add 2 TBSP of dish soap to a bowl, pour in 1/4 cup of water, and add 1 drop of whatever food coloring you prefer (I always start with 1 drop and go from there because a little food coloring goes a long way!), and then beat it with the mixer until light, fluffy and foamy 🙂 

My kids love this activity, and they will literally play with this for at least an hour (the foam does start turning back into water after about 35 to 40 minutes, so you may need to blend it again – or it’s an easy way to say, “Activity is over!” 😉

Happy foaming! I hope your children enjoy it as much as mine do!